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Election Special #1  Breaking the Doom-Loop of UK Politics with Neal Lawson of Compass

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Our first Election Special with friend of the podcast, Neal Lawson.



Neal is Director of the progressive campaign group, Compass and co-host of the Compass podcast ,called It’s Bloody Complicated. Neal is a long-time progressive campaigner and a tireless advocate for Proportional Representation as a vehicle for radical progressive change in the way we do politics.  In this swift half hour, we look at the circumstances of this utterly unexpected election and Neal explains the practical steps we can take between now and polling day  with the aim of brining about what he calls a progressive ‘Pitch Invasion’ that will fundamentally upgrade and update the way we arrange our governance structures…

In Conversation

Manda: Hey people, welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that if we all work together, there is still time to lay the foundations of a future that we would be proud to leave to the generations that come after us. And unless you’ve been living on Mars, you will know that there is a general election scheduled to take place in the UK on July the 4th, at which point we almost certainly gain our independence from the Conservative Party. We do not necessarily gain emotionally literate, progressive, wise, thoughtful or useful governance structures as a result and we need these things now. We are up against biophysical limits that do not give us a whole lot of time to play with the political structures and hope that in a couple of centuries, we’ve upgraded them to something useful. So with apologies to those of you not in the UK, but in the hope that you will nonetheless find this useful, we’re going to do a series of election specials with people whose views I trust and respect, and who are actively working to change the system from within to something that would actually be emotionally literate. To something that would allow us to bring power to those with wisdom and wisdom to those with power. And yes, that is a slogan straight out of the novel, but we need this to happen; that was the point of writing it.

Manda: And we don’t yet have the momentum of a global movement to bring it about, so we need to work out what we can actually do. So with this in mind, our first special guest is friend of the podcast, Neal Lawson. Neal is director of the progressive campaign group Compass and co-host of the Compass podcast called It’s Bloody Complicated. He’s a long time progressive campaigner and a tireless advocate for proportional representation as a vehicle for radical, progressive change in the way we do politics. So in this swift half hour, we look at the circumstances of this utterly unexpected election and then Neal explains the practical steps that you and I can take between now and polling day, with the aim of upgrading and updating and making fit for purpose the way that we arrange our governance structures, so that we do lay the foundations for a future that we would be proud to leave to just about anybody. So people of the podcast. Please welcome Neal Lawson, director of Compass.

Manda: Neal, welcome to the Accidental Gods special election broadcast, which I have to say is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever had the chance to say as a podcaster. I think I secretly actually wanted to be a political commentator and obviously nobody ever gave me that job, so I’ve made it for myself.

Neal: Fill your boots today, Manda.

Manda: Yeah, I’m really going to for the next, next 5 or 6 weeks. Also we’re recording this people on the day the book launches. So I’m in a particularly euphoric state of mind, which is just as well given what’s happening out there in the world. So just just tell us how you are and where you are and how you are feeling today.

Neal: I’m sitting in my flat in Blackfriars in the centre of London, and I’m quite tired. I got up at 5am to start writing an article for the New Statesman, which isn’t up on their site yet, but will hopefully be soon. And the article is all about some unfortunate Labour candidates and MPs losing their seats, and what that means for the Labour Party and for the country. And we might come back to that. And I’ve been organising a petition today, which will still be around when people are listening to this. So hopefully we can include a link and people can sign up to that petition. You don’t have to be a labour person, you just have to say, look, this isn’t really good for our politics and our democracy to have a very narrow group of people running the country, let alone the Labour Party. So I’m tired, but I always love talking to you, Manda. So I’m looking forward to talking about the election and working our way through it and seeing how we can make it the thing that we need it to be.

Manda: Right. Brilliant. And I am in awe of anyone who gets up at five in the morning voluntarily to write anything, so well done.

Neal: Yeah it was a touch of insomnia as well, I have to say. So you know, it wasn’t entirely voluntary.

Manda: Okay. And we have my stepdaughter’s, Faith’s daughter’s young dog staying here and he also wakes at around that time. So I too have been up considerably earlier than I thought I would otherwise. So we are in a general election. People not in the UK, if you want to listen to this for a sense of scale and scope, please feel free. But this is unashamedly UK focussed. It’s just over ten days since the election was announced. It’ll be longer than that by the time this goes out. Let’s start with why in heaven’s name did Rishi Sunak go and stand in the rain and announce an election that, as far as I can tell, not a single human being outside his very narrow inner circle was expecting? Why do you think it’s happening?

Neal: The only answer can be is that he thought that leaving it to any time later would be worse. There’s no other reason. Prime ministers, there’s a ridiculous, unique element of British politics that they can call the date when they want. We don’t have fixed term parliaments. We did for a little while to lock the conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in a kind of death embrace between 2010 and 2015. That’s since been scrapped and within five years, no longer than five years, they can call the election date whenever they want. Which gives them enormous amounts of power. And no prime minister calls an election unless they think it’s their best chance of winning, or least worse chance of losing. And this is what he’s done. Clearly, they thought that the numbers, the economic numbers, in particular, the boats crossing the channel, etc., were all going to get worse and this was the best moment to go. The alternative is just to sit and hope and wait for something to turn up. And it might do because, you know, in politics in Britain and around the world, you don’t know what’s around the corner anymore. It’s very hard to predict. But clearly they’ve looked at the numbers; this is the best time, it’s as good as it’s going to get, let’s go now. So that’s why they’ve gone now.

Manda: Ok. Because I remember way back in 2005 a political commentator, then it was Tony Blair who had this extraordinary enormous power. Was it you who said on something I listened to recently, that they have the power, if this was the US this is the power of Congress, the Senate and the president all wrapped into one individual human being, who can basically go **** off everybody, I want an election tomorrow and nobody can stop them. It’s astonishing.

Neal: It wasn’t me that said that Manda but it’s absolutely true, in the hands of someone who isn’t directly elected by the people. You know, as we’ve seen in the last few years under the conservatives, the Prime Minister can be whoever the whims of that particular party decide it is, and it can shuffle around many times without the electorate having any say. So this is one of the problems of our political system; the amazing centralisation of power around party leaders. Not just in government, but as we’re going to maybe talk about more, in opposition too. And it’s one of the things that has to be broken if we have any chance of delivering the kind of  humane, dignified world that we want.

Manda: Okay. So definitely I agree with you. It absolutely has to be broken. And we’ll talk about how we might do it this time round in a moment. But let’s let’s have a brief look, because as we record this, Faiza Shaheen, Lloyd Russell-moyle, Diana Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and others; I’m remembering Emma Dent Coad, who I thought was pretty straight down the middle of the line, but she was banned from standing a long time ago. We now have a central cabal of UK’s opposition that looks like it’s going to be the next government acting in a way that is positively Stalinist. It’s unreal. And Luke Akehurst, who is a human being as far as I can tell without a single redeeming feature, and is far to the right of most of the existing Tory party, has now been given a safe seat, presumably at the expense of somebody else. So we’re going to end up, if they win, with a cabinet of people for whom democracy means nothing, as far as I can tell. So what is your take on today’s or the very recent events in the Labour Party?

Neal: Well, let me just pick you up first, Manda. I don’t think you mean it; I don’t know you that well, but I know you well enough to know, I think, that you don’t mean it; that there isn’t a human being on this planet, really, without a single redeeming feature. And we can discuss it. I know Luke, you know, I don’t share his politics really. But I think if we start that politics of they don’t have any, even half joking, which you were; if we start that politics of those people don’t have any redeeming features and we’re going to other them, just as they other us, then it doesn’t get us anywhere. My take on this is there are bullies everywhere. There are bullies that try and exert their influence in unjust, unfair, cruel ways. And the thing about bullies is that they’re insecure, they’re anxious, they’re nervous, and they demonstrate that through their bullying prowess.

Manda: Okay, I take all of that.

Neal: So I think this is partly what’s going on in the Labour Party. It’s always gone on in the Labour Party. There have always been factions, left fights right and right fights left. Momentum was a kind of a hammer to cower the right within the Labour Party, to threaten Deselection. And I didn’t like that very much, I have to say. The problem with Momentum was (A) I didn’t like it, but (B) they weren’t very good at it, they didn’t do it. Now what you’ve got back, after their near death experience under Corbynism, the right of the Labour Party which is a weird mixture of old labourism and kind of never surrender New Labour, have kind of miraculously clawed their way back. Miraculously, cynically, ambitiously, you know, unbelievably clawed their way back. And they are going to make absolutely sure that anything like corbynism never, ever, ever happens to the Labour Party ever again. They see the soft left as a gateway drug to the hard left. So all of the left has to be kind of expelled effectively, you know, weakened to such an extent within the party that they are the dominant force. And they’re doing it brilliantly on their own terms. They don’t care what people think, they don’t care what it looks like. They don’t care that it’s undemocratic. What they care about is having absolute control over the party. And that’s what we’re witnessing before our very eyes. And it’s awful on a human level to people like Diane, to Faiza, to Lloyd and others. Who, whether you like their politics or not, have served the party and worked, etc.

Neal: This is no way to treat your comrades. If you treat your comrades like this, then heaven knows how you treat everybody else. So on a moral level it doesn’t work. But on a political level, the whole nature of our political system, even if you defend first past the post and the two party adversarial system, those two parties are supposed to be two big, broad churches that allow everyone in and everyone to have a say. Where you’ve got a Tory party that’s moved further and further to the right, and a Labour Party that’s moved further and further to the right. And there’s no place for the One nation Tories in the Tory party and there’s no place for anyone to the left of the hard right within the Labour Party. This is terrible for our politics that becomes so desiccated, so brittle, so narrow, that you can’t possibly navigate the complexities and the trickery and the wicked questions of the 21st century. And you know what happens to brittle things, they just snap. And because the Tories are so bad, Labour well may fall over the line with a small, medium, big majority – we don’t know. But will it be able to navigate the complexities of the challenges they face from this tiny little cabal of people who now exert control? I don’t think so. This is not a good thing for Labour. It’s not a good thing for progressives, and it’s not a good thing for the country.

Manda: But it’s a good thing for that tiny cabal, clearly.

Neal: While it lasts, you know, while it lasts. And who knows how long it can last for? Nothing lasts forever. Hope can never be extinguished. Things change, things move on and it’s up to people on this call, in Compass, around the country that believe in something better and want to do something about making something better. So I think that’s what we should focus on, rather than just going on about how terrible they are. They’re not great, but the ball’s in our court. Why are they dominant? Because we’re not very good. So let’s get better. I think that has to be the answer.

Manda: Okay. Brilliant. All righty. Several different directions we could take this. Okay, let’s explore the ways that we could act within the next five weeks. People listening to this call and their friends and associates. Let’s start with what is it we’re trying to do? I would say we’re trying to bring power to those with wisdom and wisdom to those with power. That’s seems to me the baseline. We need to have emotionally literate, flexible, resilient people who get the magnitude of the meta crisis into a position where they can do something. Because this tiny cabal we just discussed seems to me to be relitigating the battles of the 1980s, and at no point have I seen any suggestion that they even know there’s a climate emergency on, or a bigger social equity, economic, political, technological crisis. So we need to bring in the people who do get it and who might actually begin to have plans to do something. Or, our entire political system just makes itself irrelevant. What do you think are the most effective ways to do that within the next five weeks?

Neal: Within the next five weeks and given the position we’re in, starting from where we are, and not where we’d like to be, the most important thing, certainly to us at Compass, is to get as many MPs into the next Parliament who support proportional representation. Now that might seem like a kind of limited goal but we think that proportional representation is the thing that breaks open our kind of tribal, adversarial, centralised political system. That gives the power to the big party donors, that gives the power to Murdoch and The Mail, and gives power to the few swing voters in a few swing seats, which kind of take us in that right wing direction. So the more MPs we can get over the line, who back proportional representation and can break open that system and allow through everyone’s vote counting equally. That you’ve got the basis, at least the basis, for winning a progressive majority. Reflecting the progressive majority in the country, but winning that in Parliament. You’ve got a chance of doing that and competing with all of those opposing forces. How do you do that? We identify those candidates who back PR. And all liberal Democrats do, and all Green people do. And so therefore it’s which Labour ones do. And we work out who backs PR, we get them to say they back PR and then we try and funnel support and resources to those people. What we DON’T do is just vote tactically and blindly for anyone. In particular those who don’t support PR. Because if we do that, we just reinforce the bullies, the first past the post people, the ones that don’t want any challenge, any competition, any pluralism, any diversity.

Neal: And we make things work. And I understand that there’s a dilemma in that, because we want the conservatives out and we don’t want to take any chances of that. But if we just repeat the same top down, centralising tribal politics, then they take your tactical vote and they say thank you very much, that is a total vote for me, it’s a total vote for first past the post and it just continues in that never ending doom loop cycle. And that’s what we’ve got to break. And we can only do that by getting more MPs into Westminster who back PR, but then building up our forces in the Labour Party, hopefully in the other parties too, and across civil society who want this to happen. So that when the moment comes and politics is just, remember, a game of musical chairs; you have to be ready when the music stops. When it stops, we have the arguments and the forces inside and outside parliament to enact PR. And I don’t know exactly what those circumstances are. It’s something like a governing crisis or an economic crisis. Something like a second inconclusive general election, when the the establishment goes into meltdown and British politics can’t go on as it was, and it has to be modernised. And so we have to be ready for that moment. So in these five weeks we’re focusing on that. We’re organising our activists around the country to get support to those candidates. We’re having events, we’re building up lists, we’re pledging votes. We’re arguing in the news, etc. about why that’s important. And I think it’s chiming with a lot of people, but maybe we can go into that more.

Manda: Yes, definitely. In a moment. Given recent events, it seems to me that any Labour potential candidate who puts their head above the parapet now and says they support PR might well be deselected at the end of the week. Do you think that’s likely? Do they need to wait until after everything’s locked in, which I think is June the 5th, before they declare?

Neal: Well it’s interesting that the party conference view of the Labour Party is it supports PR. The National Policy Forum position of the Labour Party is that it is anti first past the post and thinks that  has a negative impact on our political system, but says there is not yet clarity on which PR alternative. Is PR going to be in the manifesto of the Labour Party? Probably not I would suggest. There may be some warm words around a kind of constitutional convention or something like that. There may be some words around electoral reform. We know that they’re in favour of votes for 16. There may be other aspects of that which give people cover. So it isn’t as if you’re doing this against the party interest. You can have a view, and people that have had a long term view in terms of PR, who have been on the record, can continue to be on the record. And they are. And candidates around the country are signing our pledge to say that they back PR and by doing that they then get the support of Greens and Liberal Democrats in their area. So it is happening. It will continue to happen. It might happen more the other side of close of nominations. But it seems to be a way of building power, of building influence and galvanising the pro PR kind of lobby in and around Labour, in and around Parliament, for what’s to come.

Manda: Okay, that seems reasonable. So the core is if there are enough who are pro PR, they cannot deselect them all, on the basis that that might really adversely impact.

Neal: I think there’s definitely strength in numbers. And I can’t disclose the figures, but just as the Labour Party membership has been converted to PR, just as the trade unions have been converted to PR, it’s not really that much of a surprise that we think that the overwhelming majority of Labour’s candidates are supportive of PR. Because that’s the kind of zeitgeist mood. Now, what matters in the end is the pressure put on the leadership who are very opposed to proportional representation, because they never want any competition. They never want you to have a choice other than to be in the Labour Party or to vote for the Labour Party. At some stage that has got to be broken, but we’re moving in the right direction. However bad some of the moments may feel, people everywhere are moving in that direction, so eventually the Labour Party has to follow. And let’s just make that as far and as fast as possible.

Manda: Brilliant. And in seats where the Labour candidate and the Lib Dem and the Green are all supporting PR, at that point do we tactically vote?

Neal: Well within that, if there isn’t a threat from the conservatives. So if we don’t split the vote in a way that delivers what we call a progressive tragedy, i.e. the progressive vote is bigger than the regressive vote, but we lose because it splits all over the place; then people should vote how they want. And the other element of our campaign which will be launching when this this conversation goes out, is a vote swap site, which enables people to pair themselves up with someone else in another constituency and know that if they vote tactically for their second best or even third best option where they live, that someone else will be matching that in another part of the country. So, for instance green voters who might feel the pressure to not vote with their heart, but vote with their head for a Labour candidate, know that in another part of the country, someone who isn’t a green is casting their vote for the Green Party. So the national vote share for the Greens stays as as it would have been. And the party gets its short money and the ability to say, look, there are tens of hundreds of thousands of people who vote Green. So we’re setting that up as a way of trying to counter the abusive nature of first past the post.

Manda: Okay, excellent. That sounds really good. The constituency just south of here, the green is within one point of what I would have thought was a certain safe Tory seat. And so anyone who wants to vote green, if they can vote swap, I can imagine in that circumstance if I were, I don’t know, a die hard Labour supporter in that seat, I might be persuaded to vote green because it’s a chance of toppling the Tories. On the basis that somebody in my seat would then vote Labour on their behalf. It seems it’s got to work for both sides in a vote swap. It’s got to feel like it’s going to happen.

Neal: And what we want to offer is a counter to just straight tactical voting. Which just gives your vote away for free. They take it for granted. They kind of laugh at you for giving them it for nothing, nothing in return. Because they take 100% of it as 100% endorsement of them. And first past the post, you know, they’re rather kind of obnoxious politics. I don’t think people should do that anymore.

Manda: No. Okay. And the South Devon primary lot have had their primary. And I gather there are several of those happening around the country too. And that’s let’s take the progressive candidates, generally Labour, Lib Dem and Green. Obviously SNP or Plaid in the devolved nations. And let’s all sit down and talk and then the audiences vote and everybody has agreed in advance that they won’t stand down, but they will stand back. And then the progressive candidate that everybody in the seat wants, it’s the best we get when we don’t have open primaries yet, I think.

Manda: You said that Labour is considering lowering the voting age to 16, which I think obviously would be an amazing thing. In Wales and Scotland, you can vote for the devolved assemblies and governments. At 16, you just can’t vote for the Westminster Parliament until you’re 18, which strikes me as completely anachronistic. In the current election, it seems still that young people are really disinclined to vote because they’re not seeing anybody who’s giving them a reason to vote. Are you in Compass finding ways to inspire younger people, let’s say the under 30s, to actually get out and vote?

Neal: We’d have to have some under 30 in Compass in order to do that. You know, you can imagine an organisation that you have to join and pay even a small subscription to doesn’t attract that many younger people. And that’s a real problem, because organisations need resources to do all the things they do. So there’s a real dilemma in all of that. And I worry enormously about young people’s engagement in politics. Or the engagement of politics in young people, probably that’s a better way of putting it. There was a poll, I can’t remember what age bracket it was, probably under 30s, that showed that more under 30s back the Greens than back the Tory party.

Manda: Yes. It was the under 50s I saw yesterday.

Neal: 12% to 8%, something like that, which is interesting. I think the youth vote, the younger vote is incredibly volatile. I think clearly they have more concerns about a future that they’ll spend longer in, and everything about climate change and everything about not being able to buy a house and everything about not having a pension or a secure job, etc., etc. And I think it makes that group very volatile, in the sense that they can be behind Jeremy Corbyn because that was a change candidate that they could get excited about. But many of them could equally get excited about an authoritarian populist candidate. There was a poll done a while ago for a centre right think tank called Onward, which I can’t remember the precise figures, but in that under 30 age bracket, around 60%, 65% of them said that they’d perfectly accept a kind of benign dictatorship over democracy. And if you look at the earlier in the year vote in the Netherlands, if you’d just taken the under 35 vote, then Geert Wilders, the populist, would have won, right? So we shouldn’t absolutely think that young people are always going to vote progressively. I think they want to vote for change. I think they want to vote for security. And whoever’s going to give them that they could vote for. And I don’t see anything from the two main parties giving them that much security and that much hope. So I think it’s a worry about what happens.

Manda: Okay. Because security is a pipe dream now. But we could offer a new way of doing things. And if that was structured and laid out, then presumably there would be more chance. I have just assumed, based I think, on the two Corbyn elections, that if the vote had been capped at 65, Corbyn would have had a massive majority. And assumed that that translated into young people being very concerned about doing things differently. But I guess if Geert Wilder is offering to do things differently, Whoa, that’s very interesting. Because quite a lot I think of the Reform Party, which is just so far off to the batshit right that it’s almost invisible, but they like PR too because it would get them in.

Neal: And they like economic intervention and they like nationalising railways and water and increasing the minimum wage. You know, there’s lots of economic security elements to their policy toolkit, which could be attractive to people. Look at Farage’s following on TikTok, they’ve really gone for trying to attract younger voters.

Manda: Terrifying. Let’s not head down that rabbit hole because I don’t think that takes us…

Neal: Well, I think it’s quite good to alarm ourselves. And what happens if an incoming supposed progressive government fails quite quickly because it is so narrow and brittle? Do people start giving up on democracy? Do they give up on that pendulum swing between conservative and and Labour and start heading off in different directions? The volatility of our political system is now so huge that you can get a big majority for a government in 2019 and it all be lost four years later. So Labour could come in with a huge majority, but does it have any depth to it? Is there any real kind of thing underneath under it, supporting it intellectually, culturally, organisationally? No, it’s just we don’t like the Tories, let’s give someone else a chance. But that chance is going to be ephemeral, it’s going to be kind of short lived if they don’t have a plan to give people what they need. And there’s very little evidence of them having a plan.

Manda: No, it does seem to me that if one were to look at what they do instead of what they say, what they’re doing is providing a springboard for the Tories to look really good five years from now, by demonstrating that there is actually no alternative that has any viable options at all. And if one assumes, then, they get very safe seats in the Lords and they’re all very happy and the country just continues to sink. Okay, let’s not head down that rabbit hole either. What else usefully, if people want to give some time and energy, what in your view is the best way to be doing that?

Neal: You can get involved in different campaigns around single issues. Greenpeace will be running interesting campaigns and Green New Deal Rising will be running interesting campaigns and the sort of tax justice people will be. And there’ll be a Democracy Day at some point between now and the election, when all the PR organisations come together. So you can do all of that. You can obviously do the basics and make sure that you’re registered and that you vote and that you use this kind of moment where power, at least at one level, passes from the elites and the centralisers to us. And have those conversations in your family, in your neighbourhood, in your street, in your place of work, etc.. You know, with people. When most people don’t think about formal politics much of the time, quite understandably. But it is a moment to have those conversations and talk about the limitations of the range of options that are on the table. The limitations of our formal party political system and use it to educate ourselves and each other about what’s going on. Because change can never come from the centre. It never comes from those who already have the power. It’s always taken from them. And  when we’re burning enough, and that can be a climate metaphor, but it can just be a kind of social metaphor or emotional metaphor.

Neal: But when we feel the pain enough, then there has to be a pitch invasion of our political system. I always think of people running on a pitch to celebrate, and the stewards stand there, and if a couple of people run on they get nabbed and they get pulled down and they get booted out or whatever. But if we all run on the pitch, they can’t stop us. If we all run and say, look, we’re not doing politics like this anymore. It’s not working. It’s not working for us, it’s not working for the country or for the environment. We’ve got to do it differently. So how do we orchestrate that pitch invasion and deepen our democracy? Because if we don’t do that democratic, collective, collaborative pitch invasion as we were referring to earlier, someone else is going to do it in an authoritarian fashion. They’ll tell us who to follow and who to hate. And too many people will go in that direction. So I think the stakes are really high. The formal bit of this election campaign won’t reflect any of that. They’ll agree with each other on not raising any taxes and spending hardly any money. And everyone knows that that isn’t the real game, that that isn’t sustainable. So let’s use this as an opportunity to build our arguments and build our forces and be ready for that pitch invasion.

Manda: Magic! Okay, yes, I still think that’s possible this time around. I think we could yet surprise them, but maybe I’m living in Pollyanna land. I’m certainly going to give a lot of energy to making that happen. So Neal, thank you so much. Is there anything else you wanted to say. That was such a rousing speech I think we should end there, but if there’s anything else you want to say to people listening.

Neal: No, I’m not going to do better than that, Manda, so I think we’ll stick with that, alright?

Manda: Pretty inspiring. Yes. Let’s have a pitch invasion, people. Let’s discuss what it takes and let’s make it happen. Thank you, Neal, for time out of what I imagine is an incredibly busy day and you’ve probably got more articles to write, so we will leave it there.

Neal: Definitely my pleasure. Thanks so much.

Manda: Thank you. Okay, there we go. That’s it for our first election special. Huge thanks once again to Neal, for taking the time out of what has just become an incredibly punishing schedule in which he is working tirelessly to bring about the change that we need. So if you’re in the UK and you’re listening to this, please head over to the show notes. Go and look at Compass; see what you can do to help. And more than anything else, please become a political activist just for these few weeks. We need people out on the streets. We need people phone banking. We need people talking to friends and family and colleagues and the strangers that you meet in the queue for the supermarket. We cannot hope to match the likes of The Mail and the Telegraph and the BBC, and all of the giant media structures that are designed to keep business as usual ticking over. But I have yet to meet anybody who thinks that either of the two main parties is worth actually voting for. Most people are voting against the things that went very badly wrong. They’re not voting for something constructive. And we will be told that there is no point in even imagining that something else is possible. And this is not true. And it may take several goes, as Neal says, but I don’t think we have a whole lot of time.

Manda: I think if we could create the pitch invasion now, then we could begin to make the changes that we need and that this is essential. So find out who is nearest to you that could use your help. And if you have any spare time, any spare energy, any spare money. Please do what you can to make this change happen. And if you know of anybody else that wants to know what they can do, then please do pass them this link. We’ll be back with another election special as soon as I can nail somebody else down to come and talk to us. These will be clearly labelled. So if they’re not your thing, just skip over them. But if they are, listen, act and spread them around.

Manda: Closing thanks to Caro C for the music at the Head and Foot. To Alan Lowles of Airtight Studios for the production. To Anne Thomas for the transcripts. To Faith Tilleray for putting up with me ranting about politics for most of the time. And as ever, an enormous thanks to you for listening. Please do share this. Please do follow the links. Please do something. See you next time. Thank you and goodbye.

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Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Politics with Baroness Natalie Bennett of the Green Party

Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Politics with Baroness Natalie Bennett of the Green Party

In this second election special, we talk to Natalie Bennett (or Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle if we’re going to be formal – but she said we didn’t need to be) – one of two Green Party members in the House of Lords. Natalie is author of the Book ‘Change Everything: How we can rethink, repair and rebuild society’ – one of the essential books of our time that outlines in detail how we can create the total systemic change we need.

Answers to the Questions of life: Biomimicry, Complexity and Peacebuilding with Dr Deborah Benham

Answers to the Questions of life: Biomimicry, Complexity and Peacebuilding with Dr Deborah Benham

Deborah Benham is a trained Biomimicry Educator and with a background in Jon Young’s Deep Nature Connection work. She shares a practical, experiential lived and living toolkit to help us build thriving human societies, cultures, communities and businesses, designing with and as nature, creating mutual benefit for all life, using tech in life affirming ways, and uplifting justice, kindness and cooperation.

Breaking the Doom-Loop of UK Politics with Neal Lawson of Compass

Breaking the Doom-Loop of UK Politics with Neal Lawson of Compass

Our first Election Special with Neal Lawson, director of the progressive campaign group, Compass, a long-time progressive campaigner and a tireless advocate for Proportional Representation as a vehicle for change. In this swift half hour, we look at the circumstances of this utterly unexpected election and at steps we can take between now and polling day with the aim of brining about what he calls a progressive ‘Pitch Invasion’ that will fundamentally upgrade and update the way we arrange our governance structures…

Wild shamanic theatre and becoming embodied: with Jessica Bockler of the ALEF Trust

Wild shamanic theatre and becoming embodied: with Jessica Bockler of the ALEF Trust

Our guest this week stands at the place where neuropsychology, shamanic practice and artistic practice meet. We explore the transformative power of theatre and the importance of integrating body, mind, and spirit to foster personal and collective growth and Jessica shares a clip from one of her own practices which is solid podcasting gold!

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